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Default RPGWatch Side Quest: The Great Debate

February 15th, 2007, 00:25
In his second Side Quest, Corwin looks at "The Great Debate" - is turn-based or realtime combat better?
Head here to read the article and don't forget to throw in your opinion.
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February 15th, 2007, 00:25
Nice article, Corwin.

My answer is 'it depends'. I couldn't imagine a game like Gothic with turn-based combat any more than I would want a strategy-RPG with real-time. It really depends on the game - I just wish that more turn-based RPG's were made.

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February 15th, 2007, 00:41
I encourage you to read through this thread on Duck and Cover:
http://www.duckandcover.cx/forums/viewtopic.php?t=16562
and it's counterpart on No Mutants Allowed:
http://www.nma-fallout.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=34603

I posed the same question (TB or RT) to the Fallout community a couple of weeks ago, and it's sparked some very lively discussion.

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February 15th, 2007, 01:25
I actually read those articles after I wrote mine, when Dhruin pointed them out to me. We had our own 'discussion' about the points I was making, but that was my intent, to provoke discussion!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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February 15th, 2007, 01:54
For me, it depends although I find turn-based and Real-Time you can pause more relaxing while pure real time can be stressful…but fun. I swore much more over Diablo 2 than Baldur's Gate 2
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February 15th, 2007, 02:02
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
Nice article, Corwin.

My answer is 'it depends'. I couldn't imagine a game like Gothic with turn-based combat any more than I would want a strategy-RPG with real-time. It really depends on the game - I just wish that more turn-based RPG's were made.
Remember the first person Krondor series? It could work with the Gothic games.

Still I liked the combat in Gothic2 and VtM:Bloodlines, and had a lot of fun with the combat in Fallout, Krondor and ToEE (the only thing I liked in the game). I still don't know exactly why but RT with pause simply doesn't excite me in any way. Oh well.

Interesting article, I'm going to archive it next to the one by Gareth.
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February 15th, 2007, 02:39
Yep, TB for me. I don't play games to test my dexterity.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
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February 15th, 2007, 03:58
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
We had our own 'discussion' about the points I was making, but that was my intent, to provoke discussion!!
The point of an editorial is to preempt discussion, not stimulate it. You'll get a better reception for your ideas if you try to predict and counter every possible objection to your thesis in the article text, and then if someone does think of something to say, you appear and argue with him.

Statues wouldn't be better if they could move. Model airplanes would not be better if they were the same size as airplanes.
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February 15th, 2007, 04:17
I don't agree regarding TB multiplayer. If you and your buddy have connections with different speeds, TB is the way to level the playing field. I don't get up and go to the bathroom during RT multiplayer games, and I wouldn't do so on a TB game, either — at least, not unless I'd sent out a "Bio-Break!" ping to everybody.

For me, at an easy and simple level, it breaks down to strategy versus action. RT gets my blood pumping, and TB gets my puzzle-solving gears spinning. Both are good.

I do think that a game has to be specifically designed for one or the other, though. NWN2, for example, isn't meant to be played paused. It's too easy (on Normal mode) when you can simply slot up everybody's actions and tell them what to do. I've died all of three times, all on the same fight (and all because I wanted to try out a new character and left one of my regular followers back at home during a tough fight). Since I'm working crunch and trying to be a good father when I get home from working crunch, "Easy" is about my speed, so I'm still pausing and puppeting — but I'm under no illusion that I'm a strategic genius for doing so.

So (to get back on track) my argument is that most current RT games wouldn't work well as TB, because they don't have the strategic difficulty to provide a challenge in a TB game. The "whoah, man, what is that follower doing now?" factor is built into the assumed difficulty, and the game doesn't have enough tactical considerations (you do more damage if standing here, this combat mode is the best for this opponent/terrain, etc) to make turn-based combat actually interesting.

And since building a game that WOULD support that level of difficulty at a turn-based setting would make RT-play difficult or impossible, it becomes an either-or (with some in the middle, like the NWN family's "action queue" that lets you pause and then effectively manage turn by turn).

And frankly, anything that takes away the visceral thrill of spraying blood costs the game sales. Anything that slows the game down means that it's not going to sell as many copies. If you build a combat engine that will kill the player unless he pauses and strategizes every few seconds (thus turning a RT game into a TB game), you've made it too difficult for it to sell to The Casual Gamer(tm).

Which sucks. But there you go.
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February 15th, 2007, 04:44
Originally Posted by abbaon View Post
The point of an editorial is to preempt discussion, not stimulate it. You'll get a better reception for your ideas if you try to predict and counter every possible objection to your thesis in the article text, and then if someone does think of something to say, you appear and argue with him.
Then, this is NOT an editorial, by your definition. It is specifically designed to encourage disagreement and discussion. After all, that is what we hope to foster here; good discussion on issues we feel strongly about. I just presented a few and opened up the 'debate'!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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February 15th, 2007, 07:14
Nice article, Corwin. I'm with you in infinitely preferring Tb in a party based crpg where I can utilize to the full my characters' best qualities rather than watching the AI pull out an odd and random assortment of behaviours which at best are boring and at worst often get everyone wiped out.

To me there's not much point in leveling up your characters, kitting them out in all the best, picking the spells and feats that appeal to you, and then watching the AI have them cast a 7th level spell at a goblin or fling your archer into the front lines.

And even if the AI were competent, you would miss most of the detail in all that flurry of activity. Combat like this might as well be resolved offscreen to me, and get on with the story or whatever other raison d'etre the game may have.

When it comes to a single character game, though, I have a lot less problem with real time action. There isn't as much to micromanage, and the strategy is usually more at the point and click level. That's why I prefer to call games like Diablo and Titan Quest, Dungeon Seige and even Morrowind action games rather than action rpgs, because that is the focus. Action, adrenalin, loot and leveling. I can't even imagine how dull a game like this would be if it were turn based.

About the only real time game I feel still qualifies as a full fledged action crpg is Gothic. You have to think when you play Gothic, and when combat comes, if you haven't prepared yourself for it, you die. But even though it's fast and intense, it's still strategically controllable.

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February 15th, 2007, 08:39
I agree with you about the chaos of combat. NWN2 is an excellent example. With all the smoke from spells, noise and confusion you find in many of the battles, I was never sure when the conflict was over, nevermind what was happening during it!! There was one game I played, which would let the game AI totally resolve the combat for you if you wished,; you lept straight to the end of the battle, but I can't remember which game it was!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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February 15th, 2007, 09:12
You actually managed to give this hot topic (for RPG geeks ) a pretty unbiased treatment, congratulations.
Two aspects are somewhat missing in your discussion, in my opinion. For me at least the party versus solo aspect has a much greater impact. Party games are much better suited to TB, because the presence of several figures with different capabilities and movement in a 2D or 3D placying field is what really enables strategy - the similarities to games like chess are obvious in that case. Combat in Jagged aliance towers above anything in Fallout for that very reason. Fallout combat was interesting enough, because you still have the element of choosing the most appropriate attack for your character and the opponents you face, but compared to party TB combat, that remains a fairly linear equation.

The second missing aspect is perspective. First person (or close 3rd person, like Gothic) perspectve single-player RPG games are usually solo games, so the above applies. But also are inherently unsuited for TB combat IMHO, becasue the view is "through your eyes" instead of "looking at a game" - which leads to an urge for immediate feedback in real time. Games that have combined both (e.g. realsm of Arkania) really do suffer from immersion breaking switches in perspective for me.
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February 15th, 2007, 09:55
I'm in total agreement. The interesting ones, are small parties with TB either in first or third person. BaK and the early M&M's come to mind as good examples of each!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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February 15th, 2007, 12:22
I think you should change MP to MMORPG. After all turn based for two people can be great. Playing a game like tactics ogre against a friend is great fun. Heroes of might and magic can be great fun too… even if it gets a bit annoying to wait……

We also have chess… while not exactly an RPG it is probably one of the most brilliant games ever made.
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February 15th, 2007, 12:46
MP and MMORPG, are two totally different animals, with some similarities!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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February 15th, 2007, 13:56
Ok, here are my two cents on this topic:

If I play a party based game such as BG, NWN, ToEE, etc I prefer paused RT over real TB (arguments follow) over RT. And the reason why I prefer paused RT over TB is simple: I just don't like it to be bored by just another standard encounter which could be over in 5 secs in RT but costs me about 5 mins in TB. This ist the case in BG and NWN and to a certain degree even in ToEE. Later in these games my characters are so strong that they can kill a simple foe in a few seconds. In TB combat this would take considerably longer. And that I don't like at all.
I like TB combat far more in strategy or tactic games like Civilization or Wesnoth, etc.


So, and if I play a single character first-person (third person) RPG like Gothic or Oblivion, I very much prefer RT combat over the other two options. Why? Because I like action. And I just can't imagine a TB Gothic.
If it's not a first person RPG but an isometric one (Diablo, Sacred, you get what I mean) I prefer paused RT over RT over TB. Why? Same reason as above.
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February 15th, 2007, 14:10
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
We also have chess… while not exactly an RPG it is probably one of the most brilliant games ever made.
This is my main reason to prefer TB combat.

However, Companies, that are desiggnated in making much profits, and thus selling lots and lots of units, won't want to try to sell games like Chess. Chess simply doesn't sell.

But still - it is one of the deepedst games ever made. Everyone knows chess, but no-one actually plays it. Instead, they use other board games.

This might sound weird, but I was trying to use Chess and board games in general as kind of an analogy to TB games and RT games.

Everyone knows what turn-based combat is, but still no-one plays it.

What are the reasons for that ?

- laziness ?
- no adrenaline ?
- no wish to "think deep" ?
- general distaste of thinking, pondering on things ?

I don't know, but these *could* answers explaining why someone doesn't like turn-based games (like Chess).
Or, to put it the other way round : These are the points which are more or less typical for turn-based games.

I still wonder whether RT games are rather popular among a younger generation than TB games … ?

(Sorry if everything reads a bit weird: By brain has not properly booted up. )
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February 15th, 2007, 16:49
For me: Party=turn based or real time with pause. Turn based is great for huge tactical battles but I like RTw/P for the smaller combats. To me the best combat system for party gaming is Might and Magic. It was real-time if the encounter was simple, but if things got hairy you could switch to turn-based and hand select each segment of the fight.

Solo games are prefered as Real Time or better yet, RTw/P. Turn based when only playing one character vs computer opponents makes no sense.

Wizardry 8 had a turn-based system but the game was flawed in that each combat would take several minutes to half an hour to complete. If you could have skipped all combat in Wiz8 the game would have lasted less than 20 hours. While I enjoy combat in a game, I don't want it to be the primary focus. Turn-based crpgs, where combat is the primary focus, don't seem to sell well at all. I used to buy all such games but those days are in the past. I don't think Wizard's Crown or Eternal Dagger will see a resurrection. I believe it is the primary reason ToEE failed. ToEE was very buggy, but the nothing-to-do-but-fight was what dragged it into pure monotony for me.
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February 15th, 2007, 16:58
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
…There was one game I played, which would let the game AI totally resolve the combat for you if you wished,; you lept straight to the end of the battle, but I can't remember which game it was!!
You sound like me Corwin-only six memory cells left, and five are out looking for the one that got lost

You are probably thinking of some older, more classic rpg here, but I know that Lords of Magic had an auto-resolve—you just checked a box before combat and the AI resolved it off-screen. This was great for those no-brainer encounters. MOO2, not an rpg of course, also had an auto-combat option.

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